Allergy study: Ozone increases pollen allergy and asthma

Allergy study: Ozone increases pollen allergy and asthma

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The higher the ozone load, the greater the allergy symptoms

It is not the pollen alone that makes life difficult for allergy sufferers. The first results of a new study for the first time in the world establish a direct connection between pollen count, ozone pollution in the air and allergic complaints. Austrian researchers examined the effects of air pollution in Vienna and discovered that the irritant gas ozone in particular leads to more severe lung problems in allergy sufferers and asthmatics.

A research group from the MedUni Vienna and the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg recently investigated how pollutants in the air such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter affect those affected by pollen allergy. "Above all, ozone seems to have an influence, which is particularly evident in grass and birch pollen allergy," reports Uwe E. Berger, Head of the Austrian Pollen Warning Service at MedUni Vienna. The higher the ozone load, the more severe the lung complaints.

Polluted air increases allergies and other complaints

This also explains why some allergy sufferers can experience severe symptoms, even though there is little pollen in the air, explains the allergy expert. The air pollutants enter the body with every breath and do not only exacerbate allergic diseases. "Exposure to fine dust, nitrogen dioxide or ozone has been shown to impair public health and can even reduce life expectancy," adds Hans-Peter Hutter, deputy head of the Department of Environmental Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at MedUni Vienna.

The lungs are particularly troubled by ozone

"In comparison to other air pollutants, the most harmful effect is attributed to the irritant gas ozone," emphasizes Daniel Doberer, head of the asthma outpatient clinic at the Clinical Department for Pulmology at MedUni Vienna. Due to its low water solubility, ozone can penetrate deep into the lungs and lead to the formation of aggressive oxygen radicals, which destroy the respiratory epithelium. The respiratory epithelium is a layer of cells that covers most of the respiratory tract and on which the cilia, which carry the pollutants out of the lungs, sit. As a result of high ozone pollution, this protective layer is more permeable to allergens and other air pollutants.

Consequences of high ozone pollution

According to the study, people with asthma or pollen allergy and hay fever with high ozone levels experience the direct effects of the harmful effects of increased symptoms, a sudden worsening of the disease and an increased need for medication. "It goes so far that with an increased ozone concentration, significantly more patients end up in the emergency ambulances," explains Doberer.

Pay special attention to ozone from May to September

"Intense solar radiation brings increased ozone concentrations," warned the environmental doctor Hutter at the press conference on the study results. The highest ozone values ​​are usually measured in the months from May to September. Most of the pollen is in the air during these months. According to the researchers, the new study will play an important role in future forecasts. Because now not only the pure pollen count, but also the weather and air quality have to be taken into account. "We were able to show for the first time which parameters interact to what extent and when patients have complaints," summarizes Berger.

Experts recommend a pollen diary

The experts at MedUni Vienna recommend allergy sufferers to keep a pollen diary. This is already available in the form of an app. Allergy sufferers record their condition as daily as possible in such a diary and can thus recognize over time which factors have the greatest influence on the symptoms and whether treatment leads to the desired success. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: Allergen-Induced Asthma: How Does It Differ? (July 2022).


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